As soon as the game was over this past Saturday, I turned my TV off and told myself not to go on the Daily Gopher for the rest of the weekend. Probably not the smartest thing to do when I'm a contributor to the blog but I thought in this case it would be wise. I needed to get a fresh perspective on the current state of the team. I didn't want to rehash the same ole complaints, worries, and troubles that the comments section is being bombarded with at a rate rarely seen on this site in years past. Past success has brought higher and greater expectations. Coach Kill is getting visibly frustrated in interviews and saying not-so-nice things. Fans are lambasting a redshirt junior quarterback with a 10-8 record. People are calling for the offensive coordinator's head on a pike. I feel like I'm in the middle of this:
At least no one has touched Mitch's hair or Jerry's face, right?
I'll admit I was pretty frustrated after the game. It seemed silly that we had just beaten a team by 3 points that Illinois (?!?!) had beaten by 49 points. That stat alone let me know how terrible of a performance it was by the Golden Gophers. I don't care how many yards we had per carry, I don't care how many offensive linemen are hurt, I don't care how good our defense played. But when you only beat a team by 3 points that a coach-less Illinois team beat by 49, you should pretty much pack it up and head home like this (I'm aware this isn't from a movie but it fits perfectly so DEAL WITH IT):
The defense was, in fact, spectacular. The fact that Kent State will get to claim they scored 7 points in this game is a travesty and everyone on the defensive side of the ball deserved to see a 0 next to Kent State's name with the clock reading 0:00. I hope Rashad Still buys everyone on the Gopher defense an ice cream or something because it just wasn't fair.
As for the offense, well instead of repeating the same tired song and dance you've seen in every article and comment or citing a depression-inducing rushing-related statistic, I'll just give you this summation of my feelings in movie quote form:
That's about all I'll say about the offense.
So here's a "different" perspective that most probably won't agree with but I'll throw out there anyways just to be thinking outside the box. The Kent State game is not the end of the world. If I asked you where the Gophers would be three games into the season, you'd have said they would be 2-1. What is our current record? Oh, that's right, it's 2-1. At this point in the season, does it matter how we got to that 2-1? What about that start impedes us from accomplishing the goals we set before the season? Does laying an egg against a MAC team exclude us from competing against the Big Ten West? Just because Northwestern has won some low scoring affairs against Stanford and Duke means we should throw our hands up and concede that we'll finish 6th in the West, barely scraping by lowly Purdue?
Remember last year how there was a college football team that lost a lot of games but people claimed they had an impossibly tough schedule and all the advanced metrics said they were better than their record indicated? Some of them even hinted that they were an "elite" team. And then this team had a good showing in a crummy bowl game against a crummy team and sky-rocketed in the 2015 preseason polls to 18th in the country? Remember when the coach of that team started to pontificate about strength of schedule and then proceed to LOSE TO A TEAM FROM THE SAME CONFERENCE AS KENT STATE?!?! Yes, I'm talking about you Arkansas and you Bret Bielema.
Why do I mention this? Because Arkansas got propped up from supposedly "good losses" and an over-hyped conference and proceeded to start their next season 1-2 with 2 extremely questionable losses (sorry Texas Tech, but you're highly questionable at this point). THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A "GOOD LOSS" OR A "BAD WIN" IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL.
Yes, I went all caps there. Listen, we can talk until we're blue in the face about how bad the offense is and who should play at QB but the way I see it is we are 2-1 and 0-0 in conference play. We have yet to play a single game that matters in the grand scheme of our end goals this season.
I don't know about all of you but there are only a few things I really want out of the 2015 Golden Gopher football season. A Pig. A Jug. A Chair. And for goodness sake, I WANT A FREAKING AXE!!!!!
These are the things that matter. If we get those things, more likely than not we'll get a ticket to Indy as well. I'm not saying that will happen, I'm saying that there were plenty of people with those aspirations in mind at the beginning of the season and that's perfectly alright and technically completely intact. Now people will say, "Well based on the way we've played so far, we won't be able to get any of those things so these games matter in that they are illustrating the teams problems and inabilities.... BLAH BLAH BLAH."
Guess what, college football is literally one of the most unpredictable things in the world. The main variables in the equation that is college football are 18-23 year old males of various shapes, colors, and sizes. The players can get dumped by their girlfriend the night before the biggest game of their life. They are in constant danger of getting hurt on any given play. They can, at any moment in time, provide spectacular plays and have you scratching your head the next possession. Can you predict what will happen game-to-game? If so, let me know, so I can go to Vegas and make a boatload of money as you hand me guaranteed predictions. Because generally, college football can be described as the following:
Don't get me wrong, the Gophers have been less than inspiring in two games this season. In the other game, they played the currently #3 team in the country to a one-score game. I'm frustrated as heck, I'll admit it, but at the same time I'm trying to keep perspective. Remember when we were worried about our offense after the San Jose State game last year? And how we got waxed by TCU and that was an indicator that we couldn't hang with elite teams? Well, it's funny because later on that year we hung 51 points on Iowa and played eventual national champion Ohio State to a 31-24 score. Guess who was ranked 4th and 7th in the country after Week 3 last year? Oh, you know, just two teams that ended up with the same record as the Gophers (8-5) and were wholly mediocre in Oklahoma and Texas A&M, respectively. So what's my point with all of this rambling?
WE DON'T KNOW ANYTHING YET!!!!!!!!!
I'm honestly not being some maroon-glasses wearing optimist here. There are plenty of problems on the offensive line, our QB play is erratic, our offensive coordinator isn't earning his 6-figure salary, and our conference schedule isn't going to be a picnic. But at the same time, let's keep some perspective as to where we stand right now. 2-1 with a loss against a probable 10-win team. Wow, look at me making a prediction immediately after bashing trying to predict college football, how ironic....
Sorry for that aside.... 2-1 in non-conference games unrelated to our end goals. Riddled with injuries. Armed with a near-elite defense that will keep us in games. Placed in a division with no great collegiate offenses. Sure, if you don't like ugly football the next few months might hurt your eyes a little but if you like watching Gopher victories, I have a feeling it won't be nearly as bad as the Twin Cities media think it might be. Seriously, Ohio State just beat Northern Illinois by 7 points in the Horseshoe. I know we have our problems but it would appear that just about everyone else does as well.
TL;DR - We're 2-1. We have problems. Everyone else has problems. Let's see how the season goes before declaring doom.